Safety first. Helmet always.
When you get in the saddle, staying safe is critical. The best way to be safe is with the right helmet.
Most riding helmets today meet certain safety standards. One of the most common certifications is ASTM (though you’ll see others like SEI). MIPS technology is a sought-after safety feature because it better protects against rotational damage. Some brands that are well-known for their safe helmets include Charles Owen, Tipperary, One K, and Troxel.
Horseback riding, like many sports, has an element of risk. It’s important to wear a helmet every time you ride to protect your head in case of a fall.
Helmets used to consist of a plastic shell covered with velvet. Fortunately, the options have widely expanded since then. Some common materials these days include leather, velvet, hard plastic, and nylon webbing.
For a helmet to work and keep your head protected, it has to fit properly. The best way to ensure the correct fit? Measure your head with a soft measuring tape and choose accordingly.
You can buy the safest helmet on the market, but if it doesn’t fit properly, it’s not going to protect your head.
Always take the time to find the right size and adjust the helmet to fit correctly.
What Makes a Helmet Safe?
The easiest answer? A helmet with an ASTM certification is guaranteed to be safe.
A helmet that fits your head properly and snugly will be safer than one that’s too small or too loose (even if all three options are ASTM certified).
Who regulates helmets for horseback riding?
Helmet safety is primarily regulated by the ASTM, or the American Society for Testing and Materials.
They use a combination of engineers, doctors, and physicists to make sure each riding helmet they certify will keep riders safe.
What standards have to be followed?
The ASTM doesn’t just regulate riding helmets. The standard of theirs that has to be met by helmet manufacturers for equestrians is ASTM F1163-15.
Should horseback riding helmets have MIPS?
MIPS, or Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, is another layer of protection for your brain against rotational motion during impact.
Because this type of damage is common during horse falls, choosing a helmet with MIPS is a safe bet.
How do you know when it is time to replace a helmet?
Even if you ride accident-free, replace your helmet every five years.
You should also replace your helmet after any accident where the helmet impacts the ground (or something equally hard, like a tree).
How can you tell if a helmet fits properly?
A properly-fitted riding helmet should be snug, with firm, even pressure around your entire head. There should be no specific pinch or pressure points, and the helmet should lock nicely against the back of your skull.
It should rest level on your head, covering your forehead and sitting about an inch above your eyebrows.
Safest Riding Helmets
|Category||Product||Price Point||You’ll Love Them If:|
|Safest Eventing Helmet||Tipperary Sportage||$$||Multiple colors, excellent ventilation|
|Safest Dressage Helmet||Charles Owen jR8 Pus||$$||Two styles (regular and round), microfiber suede|
|Safest MIPS Helmet||One K MIPS CCS||$$$||MIPS technology, ABS composite shell|
|Safest Kids Helmet||Troxel Liberty||$||Multiple colors, multiple safety certifications|
|Safest Trail/Western Helmet||Troxel Intrepid||$||Multiple colors, great ventilation|
Tipperary Sportage Helmet
This lightweight helmet combines the best in safety and design.
- Drop back shell (increased protection and snug fit)
- Ventilation system
- Flexible visor
- Can be tricky to fit if you’re between sizes (I suggest ordering the one above and below to see which fits better)
Charles Owen jR8
This helmet, which meets multiple safety standards, is sleek, elegant, and show-ring ready.
- Washable headband
- Microfiber finish is weather-resistant
- Customers frequently say the fit is spot-on
- A little pricey (but worth every penny!)
- Some users say the ventilation could be better
One K MIPS CCS
This top brand has incorporated MIPS technology for an added layer of protection. You’ll love the professional look and how lightweight it feels.
- Washable, antimicrobial liner
- Multiple vents for maximum airflow
- Padded for extra comfort
- Easy to clean
- It’s more expensive than some options (but cheaper than most helmets that include MIPS)
This helmet fits both kids and adults. The low-profile, simple design makes it suitable for everything from lessons to trail riding.
- DialFit system (makes quick and precise adjustments a snap)
- Multiple vents for airflow
- Washable headliner
- Good-sized visor
- Some customers have issues finding the right size (but once they get it right, the fit is perfect)
The matte finish and low-profile design make this helmet a great choice for Western riders and trail riding. Customers love the self-adjusting SureFit Pro feature, which changes with the motions of the rider for maximum comfort.
- Fun visor shape
- Sleek, low-profile appearance
- Great for all-day comfort
- Flexible strap adjustment
- Some riders feel this helmet doesn’t fit well on different head shapes
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the safest horse riding helmet brand?
While any horse riding helmet certified by ASTM is safe, our pick is Charles Owen. Their helmets meet three international standards for safety, and many include MIPS.
Q: Do all One K helmets have MIPS?
Not all One K helmets have MIPS, but they do have a few options with MIPS, including a CCS with MIPS collection.
Q: Are One K helmets safe?
One K helmets go through three different tests for safety and are certified by both ASTM and SEI.
Q: Are hunt caps safe?
NO! Hunt caps are designed to be decorative and do not protect your head in the event of a fall.
If you’re going to wear something that looks like a helmet…why not wear a helmet that actually protects you?
Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to have a sleek and stylish helmet that’s certified to keep your head safe while riding. Make sure you measure before you buy to ensure the right (and most comfortable) fit.
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
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- 3-Day Eventing: Learn the Lingo
- 5 Reasons to Switch (One K Defender Air Helmet Review)
- Safe or Sorry: How Often to Replace Horseback Riding Helmets
- 8 Best Horse Riding Helmets for Hot Weather Relief
- Tot to Trot: 5 Best Riding Helmets for Toddlers
- Horseback Riding Safety Equipment That’s Worth Every Penny
- Equestrian Hit Air Vest Review: My Favorite Fall in 30 Yrs